At first glance, this will seem deep in the weeds, but this just in from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal constitutes a real break for Wisconsin Dems in their quest to take back the state senate in the recall wars:
State elections officials Monday took a Republican Assembly lawmaker off the ballot in a recall election against a Democratic senator.
The state Government Accountability Board voted unanimously to leave Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette) off the ballot in the July 19 recall election for Sen. Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) in the 30th Senate District. The board found that Nygren fell just short of collecting the 400 valid nominating signatures needed to qualify for the ballot, finding he collected only 398 valid signatures.
The accountability board had initially found that Nygren had submitted 424 qualifying signatures from voters. But after a number of signatures were challenged by Democrats, the accountability board found that 26 of those were invalid.
In a nutshell, what happened here is that one of the Dem state senators that Dems and labor thought was genuinely vulnerable to a recall challenge — Dave Hansen — will now no longer face his toughest challenger. Once it has been established through signature gathering that a recall election will be held against a sitting official, a potential challenger only requires 400 signatures to get on the ballot in the recall elections. Hansen’s leading challenger, John Nygren, fell short and was disqualified.
Hansen is now all but certain to face a challenge from a far weaker candidate — David VanderLeest. According to Journal Sentinel columnist David Bice, this latest challenger has a court record that includes disorderly conduct.
Kelly Steele, a spokesman for the labor-backed We Are Wisconsin, was thrilled about the new development, claiming that VanderLeest’s “rap sheet reads like a directory of the Wisconsin state criminal code.”
Here’s why this is important. In order to take back the state senate, Dems need to net three recall wins. Six Republicans face recall battles; while only three Dems do. But now one of the three Dems may be far safer than previously thought, which means Dems may have an easier time netting three wins — and that Wisconsin GOPers may have a tougher time hanging onto the state senate.